The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updated its list of infested waters earlier last month (November, 2016) and southwest Minnesota remained free of one of the state's most damaging invasive aquatic species: zebra mussels. Currently present in 121 Minnesota water bodies (26 new this year), the overall percentage of lake's infested is very low (at 2%) it only takes one zebra mussel to infest an entire new water body.
Mike Hawkins, fisheries management biologist at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at Spirit Lake, recounted how a single live mussel was found in Upper Gar Lake in 2012 (just south of East Okoboji Lake). And it didn't take long for the mussels to spread. "In 2015," said Mike, "every structure I looked at on West Okoboji had mussels on it."
Detrimental to water quality and swimmers (the shells are sharp), Dennis Heimdal, environmental lab specialist at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Spirit Lake, said the mussels are very hard to control. "As of right now, there really isn't a way to kill off the zebra mussels in a large lake," he said.
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